The project is the first of two large-scale expansion schemes that, when complete, will increase the port’s overall annual container capacity by 40 percent, or 1 million container units, by 2020, according to VIG.
“We are adding capacity now so we can handle the cargo that will be coming to us in the very near future. The big ships are here — more are on the way – and they are carrying significant amounts of containers and Virginia will be ready to accommodate that volume,” John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority (VPA), said.
Survey crews began the preparatory work to expand the rail/container stacking yard at VIG on February 14. The overall project includes expanding the container stacking yard, doubling the on-dock rail operation and the expanding the truck gate.
The Governor of Virginia, Terry R. McAuliffe, said that this start of the works sends a message that the port of Virginia “is investing for the long-term and we will be able to service the vessels of any ocean carrier here at what will be one of the most modern and efficient container terminals in North America for decades to come.”
The wharf work will create new berth space, which will be used to handle a larger class of container ship that will begin sailing the Atlantic Ocean before year’s end. A longer wharf will make way for four new Suez class container cranes that will handle the big ships and their cargo loads. The wharf project is set to start on March 15 and is scheduled for completion in the winter of 2018.
When complete, the capacity expansion at VIG will create the ability to process 1.2 million containers annually at the terminal, up from the present capacity of 650,000 containers.
The expansion project comes on the back of a long-term lease for the 576-acre facility signed between the port and Virginia International Gateway, LLC, in 2016.
The lease, which went into effect on November 17, 2016, extends through 2065, clearing the path for the port to begin work on the expansion.